Fredericton-area bridge to be demolished after closure for safety reasons

·2 min read
The Nashwaak River Bridge, also known as the Penniac Bridge, will be removed this summer after serving as a crossing since 1964. (Google Maps - image credit)
The Nashwaak River Bridge, also known as the Penniac Bridge, will be removed this summer after serving as a crossing since 1964. (Google Maps - image credit)

After closing it last fall over concerns for users' safety, the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure says it will demolish the Nashwaak River Bridge — also known as the Penniac Bridge — this summer.

A tendering process will be launched next week to hire a company to remove the bridge and its steel trusses.

The work is expected to take 10 to 14 days, Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Jill Green, said in an interview.

More work will continue throughout the summer to remove the bridge's abutments and piers, she said.

The cost of the bridge's removal is anticipated to be about $1.3 million, which department spokesperson Mark Taylor said was a "rough" estimate considering the project is just about to go up for tendering.

Green said her department is also working with stakeholders on mitigating any impact on recreational users of the Nashwaak River.

Part of 'tough decisions' to be made on infrastructure

Built in 1964, the Nashwaak River Bridge is about 10 kilometres north of Fredericton's downtown and connects Canada Street on the west side of the Nashwaak River to River Road on the east side.

Citing safety concerns, the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure closed the bridge indefinitely last November, but at the time didn't say what the plan for it was.

Gary Moore/CBC
Gary Moore/CBC

On Wednesday, Green said an engineering study was done to determine whether to fix the bridge, replace it or remove it, and the department ultimately chose the latter.

"As we look at our future and our aging infrastructure, we sometimes have to make some tough decisions about our infrastructure and whether we should replace it or rehabilitate it, or whether it's an opportunity to divest ourselves of one piece of infrastructure and one cost associated with that piece of infrastructure," Green said.

She said the decision was partly based on how integral the bridge was, noting the placement of four other bridges along the Nashwaak River, as well as the recent construction of Route 8.

Shane Fowler/CBC News
Shane Fowler/CBC News

In a letter Green sent to residents on Sunday, she advised them of alternatives, which include using the Marysville Bridge, about five kilometres to the south, or using Durham Bridge, about 15 kilometres to the north.

'It's just not very convenient'

Dave Dorcas has lived nine houses north of the Nashwaak River Bridge along River Road since 1976.

He was upset the bridge was abruptly closed last year and is now disappointed to learn the province has decided to remove it.

"The government spends money on everything else — federal and provincial — and they won't fix the bridge," he said.

Dorcas said he's now retired so doesn't drive as much.

But on spring days when the Nashwaak River gets high, it sometimes floods a section of River Road, making the Penniac Bridge a necessary crossing for him to get into Fredericton.

"It's just not very convenient," said Dorcas, about the loss of the bridge.

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